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Organizers Hope 'Chairs For Change' Fundraiser Has Legs

Two not-for-profit organizations are hopeful a new fundraiser will get people on their feet to bid on chairs decorated by area artists. 

The auction on Nov. 4 will benefit Recycling Furniture For Families (RF4F) and the YWCA's Labyrinth Outreach Services for Women. RF4F has provided furniture to 15,000 people since 2003.

"Every year we see our numbers growing," said RF4F Director Frank Downes. "We normally help 500 to 700 families a year. We find, especially lately, growing every year." 

Downes says the program is open to people at or below the poverty line, sometimes people who have been victims of domestic violence or recently homeless. 

"This is vital. We not only provide furniture, we provide beds as well," said Downes. "It's one of the most vital things that we can provide."

Credit Emma Shores / WGLT
Chairs headed for the auction block.

Labyrinth Outreach provides services to McLean County women recently released from jail or prison. Labyrinth provides job coaching and counseling services, along with limited housing for women.  Labyrinth board member and co-founder Mary Campbell doesn't know how Labyrinth has reduced the probability women will return to prison. However, she says Labyrinth has based its local services on successful models developed elsewhere.

"Those two programs are in Denver and Nashville. We've just done everything they've done as we've evolved the program. They've been around for 20 years. They've cut the recidivism rate which nationally is about 53 percent," said Campbell. "They have that number down in the single digits." 

Downes said he expects some exposure in addition to funds to help operate RF4F. Campbell says Labyrinth will use money raised to fund a training-mentorship program to help find employment for clients. It will incur additional staff and curriculum costs. 

The auction is Nov. 4 from 6 to 9 PM at the Inside Out Gallery at 200 W. Monroe in Downtown Bloomington. Advance tickets are available. Tickets are also available at the door. Downes said he hopes the starting price for many of the chairs on the auction block is around $50.